The following is a personal story from my childhood that is wrestling related in the most unusual way imaginable. In hindsight, if you look at it from the perspective of a black nine-year-old who grew up in an all-white neighborhood, it’s quite funny.
On a summer afternoon in 1990, two of the neighborhood kids, brothers Paul and Andrew ran up to me with a big ol’ smile on their face. The older brother, Paul could hardly contain himself when he asked
“Hey Atlee, do you know what N.W.A. stands for?”
“For real?” I thought to myself as I replied, “National Wrestling Alliance.”
National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) was the second biggest professional wrestling organization in the 1980’s and early 1990’s.
“NOPE,” Paul said with glee as he replied with unmitigated swagger. “It stands for NIGGAS WITH ATTITUDE!!!”
I charged right at Paul as I thought, “No, this dude did not just call me the n-word, and with attitude no less.”
Paul ran and tripped up the stairs of his porch. I caught him and salivated at the notion of knocking his block off.
“No, Atlee, wait. That’s what they’re really called, look.” Paul screamed in desperation as he pulled out a cassette tape labeled Straight Outta Compton. The cover didn’t say N@#$% With Attitude. However, it did say N.W.A.. Where I expected to see Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard holding up four fingers, I saw Eazy E pointing a gun.
Plus, the provocative song titles listed on the back of the tape suggested that Paul might have been telling the truth. I was still skeptical. So, I asked my father, who is a music encyclopedia.
I entered my father’s stereo room with an earnest educational pursuit. “Hey, Dad, does N.W.A. really stand for N@#$%& With Attitude?” I asked eagerly. He replied, “Yes,” and followed it up with a stern, “Now go to your room.” I know I had just said the n-word in the house, but I figured I get a pass on this one.
I sauntered to my room, shocked at what I had learned. My big take away: I was the only black kid in the neighborhood, and the last to discover N.W.A. Straight Outta Compton gave white suburban kids a license to use the n-word.
An annoying consequence to a dope album.
At least the day wasn’t a total loss. I was still allowed to watch the Great American Bash that evening as Sting defeated Ric Flair to win his first NWA World Heavyweight Title…Man, I was such a nerd.